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  • Writer's pictureBurk Moreland

How Smokey Bear Would Manage Your Business

Having lived in Colorado for a time and traveling to California as much as I do, I have seen the devastation and terror that wildfires cause. All it takes is a tiny spark and thousands of acres are destroyed, putting people, wildlife, and a beautiful place in danger. Firefighters risk their lives on national television multiple times per year to save everyone and everything they can. Firefighting is a very dangerous job, and one I respect deeply, in fact my father was a fireman. One of the interesting things that always makes me think though, is that the cameras always want to focus on the people on the front lines. We see planes and helicopters swooping in with water or other chemicals, and if they’re not center stage, it’s the firefighters getting up close and personal with the blaze. One often forgotten component to this firefighting team, is the group of people supporting those planes and firefighters. For every person on the front lines, there are many more in the background doing things like building fire breaks and lines. They use heavy equipment to clear swaths of flammable materials that are in front of the fire so that there is nothing to burn when it gets there. It is a combined effort of fighting what is there along with attempting to prevent it from getting much further. Both are essential to the success of the operation.

Although not as entertaining to watch on TV, there are many similarities between a typical business and fighting a fire. I see client after client spraying water all over the fires. They are in the middle of the fight, dropping gallons and gallons of ‘water’ all over their problems and issues. The problem tends to be as they get one nearly snuffed out, another one erupts into a blaze behind them when they aren’t looking. They become a permanent fire fighter fighting an endless battle. Sound familiar? Can you feel the heat all around you?

So, what do we do? We build a plan that incorporates building ‘fire breaks’ into our operation along with the firefighting, so that gradually we can become more of a fire preventer than a fire fighter.

One example would be spot checks on different parts of your operation. Sometimes just going out to the field and looking at what people are doing once in a while before something is done is all it takes. Invest a day on the line, in a project, or sitting beside someone as they do their work. You may find valuable insights into not only what they are doing differently than you would prefer, you may even find some struggles they are having that you can fix easily. As an added benefit, you will get to know your people better and form a stronger bond with them. The term ‘management by walking around’ was coined many years ago and perfectly describes what I’m talking about. We get so involved in fighting the ‘giant blaze’ that we don’t stop every once in a while to be sure to clear some brush where there is nothing burning yet.

So, don’t give up the fight. The fires must be dealt with. But never lose sight of the fact that the ONLY way you will ever get ahead of it is to start preventing some of the fires in the first place. As Smokey Bear says: Only YOU can prevent Wildfires.

If you need any help figuring out how to get control of a few fires or advice on any other components of your business, please reach out to us. We are here to help. Contact us at or (832) 356-4585​.

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